Introduction to Digital Printing

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The parameters include: image quality and resolution, production print and processing speeds, indoor and outdoor application durability, environmental impact and cost, color and image consistency and reproducibility, and costs per print. It has adopted digital processing for operations requiring one or a small number of images, such. One needs to understand the relationship of these to compare different printing technologies effectively.

Resolution is usually. Inkjet images are composed from a grid of pixels, i. The number of these dots per linear inch in the x direction and the number of dots per linear inch in the y direction indicate the dpi resolution of a print. Software can usually instruct a printer to construct its lines from one or more rows of contiguous pixels. If one used 4 pixels per line on a dpi matrix, one would be printing 90 lpi output. In actuality these terms, dpi and lpi, describe only one aspect of what is termed apparent resolution, i.

Another factor is grayscale or graylevels. This involves the number of. In inkjet printing, this involves the number of drops addressed per pixel or dot, or the number of possible droplet sizes per pixel dot. Matrix cluster patterns and Raster Image Processor RIP algorithms can also affect apparent resolution, but these are largely software rather than hardware factors. Digital printing addresses its ink or toner to a grid or matrix.

Digital software image processing can offer a large number of matrix patterns including random patterning. It also permits a single master or print image to contain multiple matrices. For instance lettering might be generated in a pattern which favors line acuity, while a photographic image is generated in a pattern which permits. Focusing on the relationship between image output quality and print hardware factors, Rodney Shaw of Hewlett-Packard suggests digital image-quality descriptors which allow for absolute performance comparisons between diverse imaging technologies, both analog and digital.

Equipment and consumables

One of these descriptors is a digital noise scale DNS. This model for comparison adapts electronic communications signal-to-noise ratio analysis. It uses a 0 to 10 noise scale, delineated in Table 1, which encompasses the gamut of conventional photographic image noise or what is commonly called graininess. The frequency of ones dots dpi is inversely proportional to the square root of the tone level.

Increasing dpi to obtain finer detail and reduce matrix visibility will also reduce the pictures tone contrasts and increase the chances of false contouring and perceived image distortion. Print application viewing distance is the key factor in striking this balance. At a far distance, one needs higher tone levels but not high dot frequency for the perception of continuous tone, while one requires high frequencies and apparent resolution close up but not high tone levels. Printers have to find the balance between high resolution and high tone quality to suit each application.

Billboards viewed from a distance of a feet could have a resolution at of 20 dpi with a binary grayscale but appear to be a continuous tone images, while images viewed at a distance of 2 feet would require a dpi resolution with binary grayscale.


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Binary grayscale means that either there is one or zero dots of one invariable size at pixel cells in an image matrix. The higher the number of possible grays or value variations per pixel, the higher the apparent resolution.

Is screen printing or digital printing better?

Also the higher the number of dots or lines per inch, the greater the resolution. These include various forms of inkjet, thermography, electrophotography and electrostatic printing, ionography, magnetography, and digital photographic imaging and developing. None of these require a physical master but instead rely on digital data to create images. For digital printing, such as inkjet, the noise level is a function of a prints dpi and the number of its gray levels. The higher the DNS number, the lesser the apparent resolution, the lower the greater.


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  8. Figure 1 plots the relationship of dpi and gray-levels against the digital noise scale. Numerous opportunities exist for combining the strengths of each to garner the best of both worlds. The digital take over of prepress analogue operations illustrates this example. Pre-press requires the generation of a single master which is best generated digitally. Once created, analogue printing can reproduce large numbers of it cost effectively. Digital can print variable information in a print job, while conventional prints the unchanging elements.

    Other marriages are also possible to use the best of both.

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    The rate at which printing equipment produces product or adds value to it, in part, determines how much one can spend for its purchase or use. They have grown to dominate niches and segments of the Printing Industry. Its expansion will continue for new applications and to replace analog printings market share. IT Strategies projects that the greatest growth for inkjet printer sales will occur for the in-house Corporate market followed by the Professional print for pay market.

    Current inkjet configurations cover productivity ranges from 1 to square meters per hour. As production speeds and print quality increases and capital and consumable cost decrease, more print providers will adopt one or more forms of digital technology with inkjet leading the way.

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    Trends indicate that wide-format electrostatic printing will experience somewhat slower growth. Novel digital technologies have to develop some track record before one can predict their role and market penetration. Analog printing technologies will continue to hold quality and production speed advantages for the next decade, but digital improvements will continue to erode analog market share. The development of chemistry for this printing technology is expanding its applications beyond paper printing to textile and industrial printing and fluid deposition.

    Other digital technologies are also providing the advantages of digital printing. We will examine the role of inkjet chemistry and other digital printing technologies in future articles. Market demands for reduced inventory risk, quick response,.

    Stefanini, F. Binary Continuous Inkjet The advantages of binary inkjets are their speed, proven track record, high reliability, a large range of available chemistry for many applications. The disadvantages are initial systems costs and lower resolution of some current offerings than drop on demand printers, the need for low viscosity electrolytic inks, and the need for refiltration resulting in some waste ink. Hertz binary continuous inkjet, such as those from Stork and Iris, offer high resolution but with slow image production speeds, drum-limited format, and high capital and consumable costs.

    Multilevel Continuous Inkjet The now defunct technology application development company, Embleme, developed Continuous Multi-Level Deflected Inkjet a demonstration T-shirt printing device employing the Imaje continuous inkjet heads and Piezoelectric Transducer UV curable water-based pigmented inks. This first direct digital garment printer could Membrane Voltage Crystal image on cotton, linen, rayon, silk, wool, polyester, polyamides, Lycra, and sponge.

    The Driver Ink Head Supply Assembly printed images altered the character of the fabrics hand so slightly as to be indistinguishable. In addition to the UV inks textile inks, Toxot, the research and development arm of Nozzle Imaje, developed a water-based pigment-loaded thermally cured inkjet color ink which exhibits greater color density, wash fastness, and adhesion than its water soluble UV curPump Filter Charge Charging Electrode Control Character able predecessor.

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    Continuous heads High Voltage Deflection offer very high reliability and resistance to failure commensurate with their cost. Plates HV Continuous inkjet heads are hand assembled while the production of thermal inkjets and Ink Recirculated the Epson multi-layer Stylus systems are automated. A few tens of thousands of continuPump Substratum Unprinted ink collecter ous inkjet print heads satisfy worldwide demand each year.

    While companies, such as Hewlett Packard, Canon and Lexmark produce drop on demand inkjets by the millions. Large scale production of many drop on demand print heads keep their costs very low. Their reliability is considerably less than continuous printers. This makes CIJ effective for high volume, long run printing. For 1. Toxot is currently constructing a dpi 6 color multilevel CIJ array capable of printing two meter widths of floor vinyl at production rates of 2, square meters per hour.

    Though still falling far short of rotary screen printings cruising production rates of 60 to 90 meters per minute or to meters per hour, it is considerably faster than drop on demand inkjet printing capability. In addition, rotary screen printers usually print elastomeric and other dimensionally unstable fabrics at slower speeds of about 20 meters per minute. For print jobs which could accept its resolution, continuous inkjet could compete with rotary screen printing for short to medium production runs, elastomeric fabrics, and for on-demand printing.